For a guy who graduated from Harvard Law, Barack Obama is not really very well versed on his law or his legal history. Speaking out today about the Supreme Court’s review of Obamacare, Obama offered this stunning and completely ahistorical nugget:
Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected congress.
Look, I’m not here to debate the finer points of Marbury v. Madison with anyone, but the fact remains that since that decision was handed down over 200 years ago, it has not exactly been “unprecedented and extraordinary” for the Supreme Court to overturn laws passed by Congress (no matter the size of the majority). In fact, it happens all the time. That is the entire point of the doctrine of judicial review, first announced in Marbury and affirmed without serious challenge ever since.
I would seriously like to know, and I hope the press gets Obama on the record on this – is it President Obama’s contention that the Supreme Court’s only role in reviewing legislation is to double-check the count on the roll call vote to make sure that a majority in fact voted for the law and to check the President’s signature for possible forgery? Because, I mean, if that’s what we’re going to go back to, I’m open to having that discussion but we are going to have to figure out what to do with several hundred SCOTUS decisions that have taken a decidedly different view.
Of course, in making these comments Obama is exposing himself yet again as a cynical hack who is devoid of anything resembling shame. In 2003, the United States Congress passed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 by substantially larger margins than Obamacare. When the Supreme Court refused to strike down this law, which was passed by a “democratically elected Congress,” then-Senator Obama threw an absolute hissy fit about the fact that the Supreme Court had upheld the clear will of Congress (and the vast majority of the American people).
However, when it’s his own legislation at stake, Obama seems suddenly ready to go back and undo pretty much every Supreme Court precedent over the last 200 years in order to strip the Court of their power to rule on any question other than whether the roll call was tallied properly. The most galling thing of all is that if any Republican had said this, the media would be busily trying to paint them as an uneducated rube who was unaware of Marbury v. Madison – when Obama says it, it’s presented as a thoughtful defense of his brilliant law.